Tristimania A Diary of Manic Depression
A raw and poetic account of a mind lost in madness - and how the author found her way back from the wilderness
Where does 'self' end and 'illness' begin? Is manic depression a quintessential part of oneself, or quite the opposite: an illness which skews the self to its own image? Does the medication alter who you are? Does one become inauthentic in taking these mind-altering substances?
From the award-winning writer of A Country Called Childhood and Savage Grace comes author Jay Griffiths most personal work yet. On November 11th, after a long struggle to finish her book Wild, overwhelmed and beaten down by both exhaustion and stress, Griffiths felt herself began to slip into a bout of mania. Adding to both her genetic vulnerability and long-term stress, she experienced a sexual assault that would end up triggering a psychotic break in her psyche.
This extreme bout of manic-depression would lead to psychotic hallucinations, endless doctor visits and new medications that would take over her life for an entire year. Tristimania is a unique memoir in that Griffiths took notes throughout each episode. Having noted that people in manic periods often don’t remember them until they're in that stage again, Griffiths writes, When your mind is in flight, you don't leave tracks on the ground so there are no prints, neither footprints nor printed letters on the page. But I felt fiercely that I had to take notes that I had to mark the tracks of its passage.” With her detailed diary entries, Griffiths is able to bring readers directly into the heart of a manic-depressive episode, pulling the curtain back on how extraordinary and how tragic these feelings are.
Written in a similar vein as Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, Griffiths’ intimate and poetic style will be appreciated by many, as she shares her appreciation of the destructive powers of this particular mental illness.
Jay Griffiths was born in Manchester in 1965. She is the author of Pip Pip, Wild, A Love Letter from a Stray Moon and Kith. She won the Orion Book Award and the Barnes Noble Discover Award for the best new non-fiction writer in the USA. She has also been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the World Book Day award. Jay is a contributor to various publications and platforms including the Guardian, London Review of Books and the Radiolab podcast. Her memoir Tristimania will be published by Hamish Hamilton in May 2016.